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Pornography is the depiction, in word or image, of sexual activity. It is generally viewed as naughty, or worse, disgusting and criminal. Strictly speaking, pornography only exists in people’s minds and in social opinion, practice, habits and rules. In other words ‘pornography’is a value judgement, not an objective reality. Some consider a naked female face as pornography, which means that they experience lust or repulsion when they see it. Modern Western culture shows a wealth of images of ‘sex’, for instance in women’s magazines, and in advertisements for make-up, lingerie, perfumes and fashion. These are traditionally ‘private’ matters, because they have to do with sexual attraction, temptation and seduction. Perfumes and lingerie are, after all, afrodisiacs. Like other cultural expressions of intimate life, notably films, these public displays of ‘sex’ have enormously heightened the tension between traditional morality and the demands of the flesh. A revulsion against Western culture from fundamentalists inside and outside feeds itself on the images of beauty, health, pleasure and soft porn it perceives everywhere.
More explicit pornography is shown on ‘adult’ films, videos, magazines and the internet.
The porno movie shows lust as an uninhibited activity striving for orgasm. It confines life momentarily to what happens for a short period of time in numerous bedrooms and other rooms when people are involved in sex, either alone or together, including those who may say in public that porn is repulsive.
What pornography shows is the outside of sex, the mechanics of motions, the facial expression and the sounds, the sighing, the moaning in ecstasy; in 'hard' porn the sex organs are fully visible and ejaculation is shown, with semen visibly coming out of the penis and squirting onto skin, mouth, hair, etcetera. All positions are shown, and all forms of touching, grabbing, rubbing and penetration.
The actors may be a little more attractive than the average person, but for the rest there is little difference with common people. Pornography is literally popular, vulgar and common, because it shows what everybody can do. The spectator is, in principle, able to do the same as the actor. The reason we have pornography is that we cannot have what is being shown, in other words, pornography feeds our fantasy and satisfies it momentarily, but also serves to illuminate our lack of sexual and romantic opportunity. Most consumers of pornography are lonely and monogamous.
Pornography: private and public
The viewer who, in the privacy of his home, is prepared to experience lust, and uses pornography as a stimulant, gets aroused and satisfies himself. Under different circumstances the same porn may evoke anger or repulsion, or a neutral, businesslike attitude. It depends on the time and place, the company, for what purpose and with how much experience one watches it. The essential difference is obviously between private and public. The police inspector who has to look at pornographic material all day in order to determine the extent to which its content is criminal, will not get as excited as he was when, a long time ago, he used his first explicit pictures or texts in private to stimulate himself . A 15-year-old girl who has been raised in a strict and protected environment, can -even in private- be shocked at explicit pictures of masturbation, even though she may have masturbated herself. The memory of it may, incidentally, later become a source of erotic excitement to her.
Pornography gives a view of human sexuality
Pornography gives a relatively wide view of what is called 'human sexuality'. Clearly this term covers a much broader range of feelings of lust, fantasies, varieties and length of time than with most other animals: masturbation, coitus, oral sex, anal sex, group sex, homosexual and paedophiliac sex, sadomasochism exhibitionism, voyeurism, coprophilia, in fact the entire range of paraphilia (sexual activities other than coitus within marriage for the purpose of making a baby or expressing marital love). The human capacity to experience lust has grown during the course of evolution and is closely related to our development in other fields, such as the larger brain, the dexterity of hand and tongue, upright walking, language and culture. For more information, see Individual development.
At the same time, lust is still closely bound up with reproduction. Consequently, the main form of sexual activity that is shown in pornography resembles daily life in that it depicts sexual activity between male and female or masturbation of females. The females are mostly young and attractive. There is nowadays, also a lot of material for gays and lesbians. On the other hand, participation of people under 18 is called 'child pornography', which is prohibited. The possession and distribution of çhild pornography are severely punished and the dominant discourse of education, newspaper stories and legal actions condemn 'child pornography', as if it is some form of diabolical evil. The atmosphere of irrationality, sensationalism and intimidation which nowadays dominates the news about children and sex is typical for the revival of conservatism which we are witnessing in many other areas of life.
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